Contemporary World Culture
Child labour information
Sweatshops are an ongoing issue for companies that make billions off of the sweat and hard work of people who are poorly compensated for their work. There are many retailers that I do not shop at for a variety of reasons, sweatshops being one of them. However, when it comes to the lower cost stores, I find myself in a struggle. Due to the economy, I struggle financially and feel forced in a sense to shop at stores, such as Walmart, for products that I need. The battle comes when I think about how poorly the workers who create the products are treated as well as the employees in the stores. I need to purchase essential items for my survival and comfort, but at what cost? My internal struggle is never ending.
Walmart is notorious for treating their workers poorly. Often they are underpaid and have little or not benefits. They are also treated disproportionately and are often discriminated against due to race, gender, legal status, etc. However, the low prices that Walmart offers fuels its success and “feeds the beast.” Indian shrimp companies are not much different, although the struggle of their workers is much more evident. Many of the workers, often times female, work under horrid conditions that jeopardize their health. Unfortunately, many of them are often held against their will to work long hours in these dilapidated conditions (p.43).
Regardless of the type of product we are purchasing, whether it’d be a pair of jeans, a comic book, or food such as shrimp, the source can often be the same. This is what matters, not what the end result is. If a sweatshop is utilized to create products that we purchase, we have a responsibility to at the very least know this. As individuals, if we still decide to purchase items, as I often do, ethically I believe we should at least know that they are or could be the product of a sweatshop or other insufferable production conditions. If we still chose to purchase the item for whatever reason, so be it. But we at least owe it to the workers to acknowledge their hard work and struggles.
Johnson, June. Global Issues, Local Arguments: Readings for Writing. New York:
Custom Publishing, 2007.